In 2021, the District, alongside federal and local partners, stabilized an erosive section of Marion Brook, Village of Speculator. Over the years, streambank erosion occurred for two reasons. First, the shallow root system of cool season grasses that dominated the flood plain were not suitable for erosion control. Second, the stream and surrounding area were scoured and wiped out by the 2019 Halloween Storm. The District, Village of Speculator Department of Public Works, United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Bluman family partnered to stabilize 120 feet of Marion Brook’s streambank. Best management practices included riparian buffers, bioengineering, and natural channel design.
The Bluman family agreed to leave a riparian buffer along the newly repaired streambank located on their property. The un-mowed riparian buffer will allow native vegetation to flourish.
Trenches were dug for Streamco willow wattles, or living branches bound together in long, tubular bundles. The wattles were placed in shallow, 6-inch-wide trenches across the bank slope parallel to the stream contour. Willow wattles were partially covered by soil. Live stake willow cuttings were then stuck vertically in the bank to secure wattles in place. Willows, along with riparian vegetation, shade the stream and enhance the aquatic ecosystem for cold-loving brook trout. The combination of grass, shrub, and tree roots that are now allowed to grow in the riparian buffer will stabilize the streambank with robust roots that effectively hold soil in place.
Natural Channel Design is the application of fluvial geomorphology to create stable stream channels that do not degrade over time and that maximize stream functions given site constraints. J-hooks and cross veins installed in the stream help direct the flow away from the bank to the center of the channel, reducing the amount of hydraulic stress on the banks.
The willows are establishing exceedingly well, grass is growing, and the riparian buffer is beginning to take shape. The Streamco willows should come in even thicker as time goes on and they spread themselves. They may reach 10 to 15 feet tall. Over time, willows will continue to hold soil in place, stabilize the stream bank, and prevent erosion. The rock structures will further protect the stream from erosion.
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